Community Health Centers Seek Renewal of Funding That Expired in Sept

Mural outside ASIA Inc's community health center in Asiatown [Annie Wu / ideastream]
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Representatives from community health centers across Ohio are on Capitol Hill today asking Congress to renew the Health Centers Fund, which expired at the end of September. 

Asian Services in Action (ASIA, Inc) runs two health centers in Cleveland and Akron serving immigrant communities. They provide care for Ohioans on Medicaid and those without insurance.

“Our organization receives roughly about a little over a million dollars-worth of funding to support our communities in providing patient care. And we will potentially see a 70 percent reduction in that,” said ASIA CEO Michael Byun.

He said they have started planning for cuts if its federal funding runs out this month.

“Part of what we are doing is putting together a contingency plan and that contingency plan includes reduction in services, reduction in clinic time, potential impact on staffing, and also looking at the potential for reducing site locations.”

Byun said their centers serve immigrants including many Asians who used to travel to New York City to receive care from Asian doctors.

“Folks are telling us they are no longer getting on that bus to go to NYC but staying locally in Cleveland to get their care from providers that speak their language, that understand their culture.”

Byun said he’d like to see a long term solution to the health centers’ federal funding problem, but he’s ok with a two-year renewal -- an estimated $7.4 billion that covers some 2800 centers across the country.

Both of Ohio’s senators joined more than 60 of their colleagues in a letter urging Senate leaders to pass funding for the centers.

According to the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers, more than 623,000 Ohioans received care at a community health center in 2015.

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